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Russian, Bolivian Firms in Gas Deal

Russian gas giant Gazprom and Bolivia`s state-run oil and gas company YPFB have secured an agreement to jointly prospect and explore for natural gas in the country.

'The signed protocol envisions the implementation of a series of national projects that will have a great impact on the development of Bolivian economy,' said Manuel Morales Olivera, president of YPFB.

Under the agreement, the two sides have agreed to cooperate on several gas fields; one project involves Gazprom, the world's largest gas company, agreeing to help with the placement of Bolivian gas abroad.



Other projects include gas processing, the construction of gas compressor stations and the production of liquefied natural gas.

Since the new legislation in the country allows YPFB to be involved in all gas operations, Gazprom is allowed to operate in joint projects.

Gazprom has recently expressed an interest in Latin American markets. The Russian company is holding talks with Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela over joint cooperation on projects in the gas sector. Plans are for the construction of a transcontinental pipeline.

Caracas to Export Oil to Japan

Marubeni Corp. and Mitsui & Co. said Friday the trading houses have inked a 15-year agreement with Petroleo de Venezuela S.A. to purchase crude oil and petroleum products from the Venezuelan state-run company PDVSA.

This is the first long-term oil import contract Japanese firms have concluded with a South American country, Japanese news agency Kyodo reported.

PDVSA will export 20,000 to 30,000 barrels of crude oil equivalent daily to Marubeni and Mitsui.

Venezuela is the world`s eighth-largest oil producer, and state-owned PDVSA produces 3 million barrels of crude oil per day.

Japan currently imports approximately 90 percent of oil from the Middle East, but is hoping reduce its dependence on Middle Eastern oil since Tokyo fears that instability in the Middle East, such as the ongoing violence in Iraq and Iran`s nuclear ambitions, could disrupt stable oil supply from the region, according to Kyodo news reports.

Under the deal, two financial companies that Marubeni and Mitsui will borrow $3.5 billion from a banking syndicate consisting of the state-backed Japan Bank of International Coop. and commercial banks.

Shell Eyes Gas Contracts in Turkey

Royal Dutch Shell`s Turkish subsidiary has expressed an interest in taking over part of the Turkish BOTAS gas import contract with Russia`s Gazprom in a move designed to boost downstream competition in Turkey.

'We expect to conclude the agreement soon,' a BOTAS spokesman told Platts, without confirming details of when the deal will be concluded.

Separately, Greece is not expecting to receive gas from Turkey until October 2007, according to Greek gas company DEPA. Work on the Greek section of the Turkey-Greece interconnector is 93 percent complete, with the final section expected to be commissioned in April 2007.

Under the terms of DEPA`s agreement with BOTAS, the Greek firm will not receive gas until the fourth quarter of 2007 at the earliest, and then only a very small volume in 2007.

Closing oil prices, Feb. 23, 3 p.m. London

Brent crude oil: $58.26

West Texas Intermediate crude oil: $59.12

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